Urge Me On
2Corinthians 5:14-15 “Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have died to our old life. 15He died for everyone so that those who receive new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and raised for them.” (NLT)
I read this and my mind went straight to my childhood idea of love and being controlled by my mother. “Jesus,” I said, “This is terrifying for me! Love and control doesn’t seem to fit together? You gave me free will, but now you say your love controls me?” I sat in stillness and read the verse again. This time I noticed there was a little square next to the terrifying words LOVE and CONTROL married together seeming to leap off the page. “Open the box!” I heard. So, I gingerly moved my curser to this little box. One little click and it all made sense to me. The simple note read “Urges us on” Wow, that I can accept this. I closed my eyes as I drew in a long breath. I had a vision of Jesus sitting in his heavenly stands not controlling me, or shaming me into submission for some kind of elusive conditional love, but cheering for me. Romans 8:31 “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (NLT)
His love urges me on to do the things he has planned for me, to dare greatly, and trust him fully. Like a child learning to walk he is standing there saying, “You have got this keep coming towards me. If you falter, and you will, I will help you up and place you on your feet again.”
God in his grace reminds me of a moment in time that my mom was there to urge me on. I remember her standing at the end of the pool; I was only eight years old. I stood trembling on the block, afraid to even dive into the water. It was longer than any pool I had seen before in my whole life. (All eight years of it!) “What if I drown?” I mouthed to my mom. “Come on Lisabeth you have this. When the gun goes off just dive in and go!” She said. Wanting to please her and my coach, “BANG” the gun went off, I dove in but half way through, I panicked. I lifted my head and there she was along with my coach encouraging me. “Keep on swimming, don’t stop, just a few more stokes and you will be here.” She urged me on and I made it all the way to the end of the pool.
I remember smiling and taking in some water as I my arms turned over those last few strokes. “I did it, I really did it!” I said as she wrapped me in my towel. “Yes, you did it, and to think you were afraid to even dive into the pool. “
I was afraid to dive into the pool that day, just as today I am afraid to dive into the unknown of recovery and the things the Lord has planned for me, but it is time to trust his love that controls me and urges me on. He is calling for me to listen for the gun and dive in and keep on swimming. And sometimes that may mean trembling with fear as I prepare to dive into the unknown of unfamiliar waters.
I began a study with Brene Brown this past week. One of her first questions was like hearing the starters gun go off. “Where would you like to show up, be seen, alive, and brave?” My answer: I want to hand over my jeans, go one month without purging, and trust God that I will be okay. And publish my book.
Okay, honestly, I added publish my book because after talking to my therapist about this, handing over my jeans sounded as silly as being afraid to dive into the pool, but for me this is not easy nor is it silly. It is Fucking brave, and I will need Christ to urge me on.
It was one of those appointments that I, being a slow (thoughtful) processor, left thinking what the fuck just happened here? My confusion, or maybe it is frustration, is that I am not choosing my words very well to articulate what I mean, I am not being heard, or I am in total denial about my recovery. The other thought I had is maybe I do not trust my own voice? Even as I am strong in myself as my dietician and I had just agreed to disagree.
I have had some pretty rough body image days as the medications I am taking for my “nerve disorder” has caused my body to feel swollen and uncomfortable. I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I would rather feel well than skinny, but it is still a process. I am learning that acceptance of my body is as much a part of my recovery as eating my way back to a healthy weight. I repeat my own words daily to myself, “Recovery is not perfect, nor is it linear. I am not perfect and you know what, I am okay with that.”
I tell both my therapist and my dietician that I have been not just dipping my toes into the pool, but I am beginning to wade a little deeper into the water as I try new (old) foods and succeed in keeping them in. Go me! Why does this say recovery to me, but my dietician hears the eating disorder as I face my fears and eat the uncomfortable foods and bravely resist purging. She continues to urge me on, but believes that as long as diving into certain foods still scare me, the eating disorder’s voice is still whispering in my ears. It is difficult for me to dive into a plate of Skyline or feel the creamy frozen yogurt coat my tongue and slip into my belly. It may always be difficult, but one day, I get the sense that it won’t be so scary. I can live with that.
I feel as though my therapist is pleased with the risks I am taking with my food….and keeping it in, but the fact that giving up my jeans as my answer to “Where would you like to show up, be seen, alive, and brave?” Causes her to pause. “Maybe she is right (my dietician) and your eating disorder is more forward? How many people would think of this as being brave, let alone the bravest thing they could do?”
There it was, this familiar feeling rising in me, but I couldn’t identify it at the time. I was unsettled; suddenly uneasy as I felt myself fidget on the couch and throw my head back more than once. “Focus!” I thought, trying to shove down whatever was rising up in me so I could find my words and spit them out.
It isn’t the jeans, but what they represent. She agrees it is a metaphor for the eating disorder. I felt like I should have answered with some big dream like publish my book and left it at that, or more daring public speaking, like present at NEDA, or develop a TED Talk, but no, my honest answer is MY JEANS. I heard the starters gun go off and this is my water I must to dive into.
I know handing over my jeans, at this point in time, is my arena, or pool, as I like to think of it. You see without my armor, my jeans, or the metaphor for my eating disorder, I am out in this big bad life-sucking world unprotected as just Lisabeth. I am standing naked and afraid. To use Brene’s words, I am vulnerable. Handing over the “jeans” is so fucking scary for me, but so fucking brave of me.
This feeling I felt rising from my core as I sat fidgeting and throwing my head back; it has a name, shame. I sat there and felt shame that the bravest thing I could possibly do was to hand over my jeans because she saw it as the eating disorder more forward than I do, and quite possibly she is right,
I write this to process and discover that I am not shamed of this being my answer to the question. This is my armor. This is what keeps me from showing up and being real. As silly or eating disordered as this may sound it is the truth, my truth.
Everyone, even therapists, dietitians, clinicians and physicians, have their own armor to keep themselves safe from being vulnerable. It is part of our humanity.
There is only one armor I will continue wear and that is the armor of Christ. It is my power it is my truth. But the armor of my eating disorder, I wonder, “Has it served its purpose? ” I have worn it for so long will I be recognized without it? Will I recognize me without it?
I sat on the couch and said, “I am feeling so much more like myself these days.” So, there you have it; I think would and do recognize me without the armor or my jeans as the metaphor for my eating disorder.
As she questioned the jeans it was my own internal voice, not her voice that said, “Really your jeans! Is that all you got?” And yes it is all I have right now because the relinquishment of the jeans leaves me naked, afraid and vulnerable to just show up. I have to dive into the unknown to be known, but Christ’s love controls me, He is standing at the end of the pool urging me on.